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At the start of the school year, a gun went off at Balboa High School in San Francisco. YR Media’s Mila de la Torre recounts what it’s like inside a school lockdown.

In 3rd period English class, there was an announcement over the intercom: “Lockdown, we are in lockdown.” I looked up to see the fear in my teacher’s eyes. When I heard the stress in his voice as he told us to get down, I knew this wasn’t a drill.

I sat in the far corner of the room, my back pressed against the wall. My hands were shaking as I texted my parents. I told them we were in lockdown and that I loved them. That I didn’t know what was happening, but I loved them. I can’t count how many times I said that in those next few hours.

My classmates and I sat on the floor and watched a livestream of the local news from someone’s phone. We watched police cars pull up, and helicopters circling overhead, and cops storming the campus with giant rifles. Another classmate downloaded a crime app. Every couple minutes it sent us updates about video surveillance showing the suspect removing his red hoodie, and paramedics tending to an injured victim on campus. Finally, we heard a voice on the intercom, “We are about to evacuate the building. Please be ready.”

We were a jumbled stampede fleeing campus. Outside, crowds of parents waited for us. Several news trucks and police cars were lined up down the street. I ran to my mom and hugged her and let out a cry. I’ve never been so relieved.


Returning to school the next day, especially to my English class, made me anxious. I kept looking back at the corner where I sat during the lockdown. Just 24 hours ago, I had been gripping my phone, not knowing how the ordeal would end.

Since that day, we learned that there wasn’t an active shooter threatening the student body. The gun went off accidentally. But even that accident created a lockdown and led to someone getting injured. Now I have a new feeling of vulnerability that pervades
everything. It feels like anyone can carry a gun, anywhere. No place is safe.

With a Perspective, I’m Mila de la Torre.

Mila de la Torre is 16 and lives in San Francisco. Her perspective was produced by Youth Radio's new network of journalists and artists, now called YR Media.